Truck Driving Schools and Careers

Skills for professional drivers

Whether you envision yourself on the open road making long-hauls or maneuvering deftly through rush-hour traffic on a city street, chances are good there's a trucking and transportation job to suit your skills. Some truckers will go so far as to tell you they don't consider what they do a job, but a way of life.

Truckers transport freight from one place to another. Bus drivers transport passengers. Both are responsible for the safe arrival of their goods. In each case drivers may be responsible for short or long routes, in busy downtown areas or on highway stretches between cities. Some long-haul truckers travel with a partner, so one is always driving while the other rests.

How long will it take?

Many truck and bus drivers become qualified by completing truck driver training at a vocational school. These programs can take anywhere from several weeks to several months, depending on the school and the applicant's previous experience. Courses generally consist of classroom instruction, in-truck training and written or other testing. Some schools offer one-on-one training with a professional or an on-the-job training option.

Bus and truck driver training schools prepare graduates to test for a commercial driver's license (CDL), which can allow them to drive all vehicle classes. Endorsements on the commercial license such as S, P, N or X allow drivers to control specific vehicles such as school buses or tanker trucks. To be allowed to drive a vehicle for training purposes, aspiring truckers and bus drivers must pass a written test to get their learner's permit.

Some companies train truck driver applicants through their own programs. Others have veteran drivers teach new drivers, who may be hired-on as truck driver helpers.

Skills and requirements

Many companies require drivers of at least a certain age (often 21 to 25) who have clean driving records. In some areas drivers can be 18, as long as they don't cross state lines. Bus companies may perform background checks and test for the applicant's ability to learn complex routes. Interstate drivers must meet medical and physical requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Truck driver schools teach trainees to use space management techniques, shift gears, back up, make turns in a defined area, drive on a variety of road and traffic conditions, perform vehicle inspections, use air brakes and more, depending on the endorsements they want added to their license.

Trucking and bus driving occupations aren't for everyone. These drivers are often faced with bad traffic situations and inclement weather, along with boredom and fatigue. Those who enjoy working alone are best suited for long-haul trucker jobs. Depending on what they haul, truckers may also be responsible for loading and unloading freight.

Typical truck driver jobs:

  • Local - These truckers don't go between states and often stick to a route that takes them through a number of local towns and cities. They usually pick up their trucks in the morning and deliver goods for the rest of the day, or make several pick-ups and deliveries. These drivers haul anything from produce to debris. Local drivers are likely to have regular schedules and return home each evening. Some local drivers have sales or customer service responsibilities and may be required to take orders, collect money and sell products.
  • Interstate/long distance - These drivers aren't guaranteed to be home at the end of any given day. Their trips may last several days or even weeks and they often cross state lines or country borders. They typically drive larger trucks and carry more freight. There are restrictions on how many hours these drivers can put in, so they often visit rest stops to sleep. This area of trucking is where the employment outlook is best.

Typical bus driver jobs:

  • School bus
  • Passenger bus

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